Durham says bus driver followed procedure after dropping kids off at random stop

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis police questioned a Durham School Services bus driver Monday after several Treadwell Middle School students said he dropped them off miles away from where he was supposed to, though the bus company says the driver did what he was supposed to do.

The students said the driver was filling in for another driver and was unfamiliar with the route.

"He said he had no idea where he had to go to drop the kids off," said Kaelyn Fleming, 11.

"We told him we didn’t know ‘cause it was our second week of school, so he started getting mad and started yelling," said Ariana Wright, 12.

Wright's father said the students were supposed to be dropped off at a location in Berclair. Instead, they were dropped off more than four miles away at a random corner in Binghampton. Fleming said she texted her father and he drove the kids to the Tillman Police Station, where they were reunited with their parents.

The driver reportedly dropped off about nine students at the incorrect station.

A witness contacted police, saying he saw the bus driver drop off several children in front of his house on Nathan Avenue, then drive away.  He saw a parent of one of the children drive up and take them to the Tillman police station.

From there, a Shelby County Schools representative helped get children back home, police said.

However, that's not the story Durham Bus Services told WREG on Tuesday.

In a statement, Durham said "the driver stayed with the bus and followed proper protocol in contacting the dispatch office regarding the stop. The students exited the bus on their own accord."

"Becoming a Durham driver is a rigorous process. Prior to employment, all Durham applicants must pass multiple pre-screening checks that include: Criminal background check, motor vehicle record review, DOT pre-employment drug screen, and DOT medical examination—all conducted by third parties.

Driver training is comprised of 20 hours in the classroom, 20 hours behind-the-wheel, monthly safety meetings, ongoing refresher training  and annual behind-the-wheel driver evaluations."

Eleven other students on the bus were taken to the correct stop.

When police located the bus at Overton Crossing and Woodlawn Terrace around 5:30 p.m., the driver was reportedly driving another bus load of students home.

Karen Rudolph, with the Memphis Police Department, told WREG the driver was detained after the incident and all children were accounted for.

On Tuesday, they also confirmed Durham's account of events.

Shelby County Schools released the following statement:

"Several students from Treadwell Middle were dropped off before their assigned bus stops yesterday afternoon. All students were safe; however, the matter remains under investigation. Student safety is our top priority, and we will always take appropriate action when bus safety procedures are not followed. The driver of this route has been removed while the matter is investigated further."

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